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Another set of victims, two women have narrated how they underwent abortions in military custody in the North-East without their consent.
The two women, Binta Yau and Rabi Ali, revealed that they met about a year ago and later discovered they had a painful experience in common – both had been captured and impregnated by Islamist insurgents.
Yau said she was about 25 when she was kidnapped and forced to marry a fighter named Abubakar.
Ali said she had been happily married for 10 years and was raising two children when militants seized her about three years ago from her village and took her alone to Tumbun Gini, a town close to the borders with Chad and Niger.
There at the camp, Ali said, Islamist fighters gathered the women and told them that their husbands had been killed and they must remarry, adding that she was forced to marry a fighter named Mustapha.
Both women said they escaped on foot during gun battles between the insurgents and Nigeria’s military, only to be taken into custody by Nigerian soldiers.
They revealed they lost their pregnancies after they were loaded into army vehicles and taken to places where they were given unidentified pills and injections.
“I began to feel like we were sisters,” said Yau, who, like Ali, said she is about 30.
She said she wants their stories to be told.
“If the world hears what happened to us, and there is a possibility of human rights or other organisations stopping the bad things that the Nigerian military did to us, maybe it won’t happen again in the future,” she added.
The women’s accounts are strikingly similar to those of the 33 Nigerian women and girls Reuters interviewed in the December report.
The women had said many of the abortions were done without their consent or even their knowledge at the time.
But Yau and Ali, who now live outside Nigeria, agreed to be named, as did two other women in the December story who had left the country.
Asked about the military’s comments on the programme, Yau replied: “This happened to me, and they are denying it. Honestly, I feel like they have some wickedness in their hearts, to be denying what they’ve done to us.”
Ali, who was interviewed separately, responded similarly. “I know the Nigerian military did these things, because it happened to me. I am sure that I lost my baby because of the abortion they gave me, and the treatment they gave me. Also to my friend Binta.”
Yau said her abortion was done about three years ago at Giwa Barracks, a detention centre in Maiduguri, the largest city in Nigeria’s northeast and the command centre of the government’s war on Islamist extremists.
Three other women were forced to have abortions in the same room with her, Yau added.
Yau’s account is consistent with those of other women and health workers who told Reuters abortions were done in groups, from a handful to 50 or 60 at a time.
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